2GO, Sulpicio asked: Prove you deserve to keep operating-A A +A
Thursday, August 29, 2013
THE Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) ordered owners of the passenger ferry St. Thomas Aquinas and cargo vessel Sulpicio Express Siete to explain why they should be allowed to keep operating, after an accident that killed more than 80 persons.
The Marina did not hear any testimonies when it began its administrative inquiry in Cebu City yesterday.
But it ordered both 2Go Travels and Philippine Span Asia Carrier Corp. to submit their documents to convince Marina that they deserve to continue operating after the Aug. 16 accident.
Five more bodies were recovered yesterday from the Aquinas, which remains underwater off the coast of Talisay.
The retrieval brought the accident’s death toll to 86, with 51 persons still unaccounted for.
Meanwhile, a separate hearing by the Special Board of Marine Inquiry (SBMI) was suspended, because of the lack of resource persons.
“I am appealing to the survivors and other people who can share credible information about the collision to come forward and give their testimony,” said Commodore Gilbert Rueras, SBMI chairman.
Lawyers from 2Go asked Marina whether its investigation is different from that of the SBMI.
Marina Hearing Officer Bashiruddin Adil said the SBMI will find out what caused the collision and identify what new policies are needed to prevent similar accidents.
The Marina will determine what maritime laws or regulations were violated and who, if any, should be held liable.
Adil is the incumbent Marina director based in General Santos City.
He said that if the two shipping companies will be found guilty of violating maritime laws, their entire fleet’s Certificate of Public Conveyance or franchise may be suspended or revoked.
If that happens, all the licenses of the ship captains and crew will be cancelled.
Adil gave each party 10 days to submit all their evidences, another 10 days to file comments on the other party’s proof and another 10 days for the Marina prosecutors to comment.
Adil also set the pre-trial of the case against 2Go and Philippine Span Asia Carrier on Oct. 11.
“From Oct. 11 onward, we will conduct a continuous hearing until the case will be terminated. We will exert all efforts to get the truth about the collision,” Adil said.
Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III, who requested Marina to hold the hearing in Cebu, said the Capitol will send a representative to the proceedings.
“Survivors and their family members are here so I requested that the hearing be held here to get to the bottom of all this,” Davide told reporters in a press conference.
In his request to Marina, he asked that their representative, Provincial Attorney Orvi Ortega or another Capitol lawyer, be allowed to attend the hearing as an observer.
In a related development,2GO Travels and Malayan Towage formally signed the contract for the removal of bunker fuel from the Aquinas, which sank following the collision last Aug. 16.
This was announced yesterday during the daily command conference initiated by Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama.
But it would take 10 days from today before the “special” equipment consisting of a pump and suction mechanism will arrive from Japan.
The equipment would have arrived in seven days but because of the weather, it will be delayed by a few days.
Barring any more weather downtime, the actual removal of the bunker fuel using the salvage equipment will take 12 days, ending on Sept. 20.
As of yesterday, Philippine Coast Guard Cebu City Station Commander Weniel Azcuna reported that 65 percent of the vessel has been covered by the technical divers.
The 35 percent remaining part of the vessel that has not been swept through by divers is the left side, which is lying on the seabed.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 29, 2013.